Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Omens and Maledictions 3


William Henty was a man of few words and of those none were sociable; he worked for the local council, and was the scourge of those fortunate enough to be allocated an allotment. While they sought to supplement their diets with fresh fruit and vegetables, with perhaps some begonias on the side, Henty saw only wilful negligence and wholesale flouting of council regulations.

Henty mounted dawn raids on allotment sites, scrutinising taps and hoses, inspecting bins and compost heaps, paths, and sheds, ensuring that nobody defiled his sacred bye-laws. Any transgression was ruthless punished by fines or, his preference, eviction.

Then one day he found Mr Pincus was living in his shed, in direct contravention of the terms of his debenture. Hearing some music coming from a tiny shanty half hidden amongst towering bean plants, Henty thrust aside the rickety door to discover Mr Pincus, swaddled in old blankets, lying back on a small truckle bed, reading a racing paper and smoking a noisome pipe. One outraged sweep of the tiny room established Mr Pincus was running a small fridge off the mains and a tiny portable television. Some rabbit broth simmered on a butane gas stove.

“Get out of it, you fucking gypsy!” bellowed the council official, making irate notes on his clipboard.

“You want to watch that temper,” replied Mr Pincus affably. “You’ll blow a gasket.”

“You’ll be out by nightfall, you tinker bastard!” Henty snarled over his shoulder as he stormed off up the path. “We don’t want your sort here.”

Mr Pincus mumbled something as he leaned out of bed to turn the gas down under his soup; Henty pulled up on the path with a gasp, clutched at his chest and keeled over into someone’s potatoes.

Mr Pincus is still living in his shed.